Being a native Seattleite, being a baseball fan, and having raised a baseball-loving son in this city, I could only smile from ear-to-ear when seeing the 3-1/2 minute standing ovation for the return of Ken Griffey, Jr. to Seattle last night in the ballpark known as, "The House that Griffey Built".
Apparently there was some talk that Griffey would get booed because he left here after 11 years of playing his heartout each game. But from an exit standpoint, he left to take a cut in pay to be closer to his family. Deep down, no one can really fault a player for doing that. We've lost so many other great players who simply wanted more money...... and miraculously stopped performing here while they held out for a trade of some sort.
But Griffey Jr. was different. He came here as "the Kid" and left here as a family man. I think both my son and I grew up with the Griffey era (I was a young mom). We have so many great memories. Oh there were the great plays, and the anticipation of what was next, but also off field stories of autograph sessions and volunteering. I remember getting to a game at the old Kingdome once and seeing a very nice car parked diagonally nearly inside the venue. A ballpark usher was watching it and told us that Griffey had arrived late that night and the usher was watching the car until someone moved it.
We were always amazed with a Ken Griffey, Jr. performance and never knew what amazing thing might happen between his incredible hitting and unbelievable fielding. He loved the game - and everyone knew it. He had a smile to light up a room, and some of the fantastic highlights about his return to Safeco Field after more than a decade are on the Mariners website. If you are a student of excellence, and want to see a class act, then sit down and watch the MLB video as he is honored and remembered. (you have to click on the "Mariners Honor Griffey" camera or just to the right of it)
Welcome back, Ken Griffey, Jr! Your sttiving for excellence made many of us better, and more enthusiastic, and even a bit smiley.